UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — Japanese researchers say they’ve found more than 16 million tons of rare-earth deposits under the sea near Japan’s easternmost island of Minami Torishima.

They said the amount is enough to supply to the world on a “semi-infinite basis”.

The research team, led by Yutaro Takaya, an instructor at Waseda University and others from the University of Tokyo, published their findings on April 10 in the journal Scientific Reports.

These minerals are indispensable for making automobiles, smartphones and batteries.

Takaya said Japan relies heavily on China for rare earths which accounts for about 85 percent of supply.

He said he plans to come up with the technology to extract the resources efficiently.

The newly found rare earths lie within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and recovering them could help the country’s economy.